By Samantha Webb
The first steps out of the vault—your character’s home for their lives up until now—are some of the most exciting of any Fallout game. The possibilities combined with the vulnerability of your squeaky-clean level 1 vault dweller are just as palpable in every play-through.
How do you capture that excitement when translating an introductory Fallout adventure for the tabletop? Early in the development of the starter set, in discussion with Donathin Frye who authored the quest, we were interested in introducing the dynamic of the player character group—something you don’t usually get to experience much of in the video games. Most allow you to only have one companion while Fallout 76 allows you to play with friends. As a starter set with new characters, you probably won’t know the other characters very well, and to amp up the tension, Don decided a stand-off at gunpoint would be an incredible icebreaker. As you stand there weapons drawn, at the very beginning of this quest, it forces you to learn about the other player characters facing off against you but also about how you’ll play your own character. But the goal isn’t player vs. player drama, because the goal of the opening is actually to enter a vault. This provides some familiarity to the opening of a Fallout game but gives it a wonderful twist, exploring and scavenging inside a vault rather than leaving one.
The quest itself is an entirely original one to the Fallout franchise, and takes you on a tour of the area around Boston, and is even a precursor to the quest in the back of the core rulebook “With a Bang, or a Whimper”. It was fun to link the two, with Don providing continuity between the two adventures, and we even managed to give a nod to the two quests by packaging our collector’s edition box set in a G.E.C.K.. With a plot that takes you to different spaces and facing different enemies, the whole quest levels up your starting characters and gives you a well-rounded experience of what the game has to offer.
With an array of different character options—far more than any of the video game franchise allows—we wanted to showcase the kinds of people (and robots) you can play, and so the pre-generated characters that are provided along with the box set showcase every origin from the core rulebook. Augusta Byron is a vault dweller with a brilliant mind for computer science and artificial intelligence, while Tommy Doyle has lived in Diamond City his entire life, rarely venturing beyond the walls of the repurposed baseball stadium. Bailey Bigsmile is an intelligent ghoul who spent their childhood travelling between settlements with their family, often turned away as locals feared that the family might ‘go feral’, and Old Tallman is possibly one of the oldest super mutants in the world and is so ancient that he no longer recalls his life before experimentation turned him into a mutant. Meanwhile, Hazel Johnson was drawn to the Brotherhood of Steel to recover and preserve the technology from before the Great War, but her ambition has led her to want to be more than a nurse. And finally, as a late-model Mister Handy unit, Marvin began its life as a household servant to a smarmy Hollywood movie star. These characters give you a good idea of the kinds of characters you are able to create using the Fallout: The Roleplaying Game’s core rulebook and are the protagonists of the starter set’s quest “Once Upon A Time In the Wasteland”. They’re available as a free downloadable PDF here.
As starter sets go, we wanted to make sure you had everything to get going with your wasteland adventures, so we made sure there were dice and tokens, as well as the booklets for rules and the quest available. We even managed to get the Action Point tokens stamped out in a cap shape, which was perfect for giving it that Fallout feel. The dice are also the same as our main set, giving you the same blue and yellow Vault-Tec look, with 2d20, a hit location die, and some combat dice complete with Vault Boy’s smiling face for the weapon effects.
The starter set is a great way to begin your tabletop roleplaying adventures in the post-atomic world of Fallout, whatever your favourite game in the franchise is. And even if you have the core rulebook already, the starter set can be a great supplement, providing you with a read-to-play quest for your group as well as some extra accessories.
The PDF quickstart is available now too, free to download from our stores (UK, US, DTRPG), if you want to dip your toes before buying the starter set, or if you want to show your players a quick version of the rules before starting them off on their quest.